Title: Pack

Rating: PG-15, perhaps R later on

Author: faolan228, aka Starr

Disclaimer: Starr owns nothing! Nothing!

Summary: Sometimes, accidents happen. Sometimes, it's someone else's fault entirely. Sometimes, we have to go on living with those consequences. Tara, Willow, life, and love in the Sunnydale way of things.

Spoilers: None

Feedback: Yes please

Chapter 6: The Alpha's Duty is to the Pack

NOTE: I apologize for the first paragraph. Merely a reminder of who's writing this and all, xD

To say that Buffy exploded would be like saying Hiroshima and Nagasaki were merely blips, and Chernobyl a bubbly fart of a particularly saucy giant. Actually, the bubbly fart metaphor was a far better one, Willow decided. There was the awkward silence as the Slayer's expression gave a sense of 'will she, won't she?'(explode, not fart), the slow rise as her face contorted, and the loud noise as she shot to her feet, slamming her palms onto the table.

Tara flinched, ducking her head and trying to look as small as possible. And it had been going so well, too. Willow's friend had been on the path of accepting her as a part of Willow's life, and now it was ruined. Perhaps it was for the best. The best friend knew better than anyone what sort of suffering Willow had gone through in giving her heart to a werewolf, and Tara knew better than to assume the legendary Slayer would abide by that yet again.

'Maybe she'll slay me,' she thought bitterly. 'Way better than having Willow and suddenly...not.' She reached down, giving the redhead's knee one last loving squeeze before they were to be undoubtedly separated.

"That little prick!" Buffy screeched, turning the heads of several customers. Willow's knee jumped in her hand, and Tara looked at the Slayer with no small amount of surprise and trepidation.

"E-excuse me?" Tara wanted to clarify, and Willow was of no help, gaping like a fish.

Buffy flung her arm, the perfect image of an Indignant Woman. "What was it, some sort of 'If I can't have you, no one will' thing?" she asked, gesturing to Willow, and then Tara's arm. "Or," her eyes narrowed dangerously. "Was this is his attempt at putting anironic twiston things? 'Girl leaves werewolf, only new love is also a werewolf'? Ugh, choke on a capo, guitar boy-"

"No!" With both sets of eyes suddenly on her, Willow blushed, ducking her head in a very Tara-esque manner. "I mean..." despite choosing Tara over him, and despite all that he'd done, she didn't want the werewolf to be painted in such a light.

"N-no," Tara intervened. "He um, he smelled Willow on me and he Changed," the way she said it implied that 'changed' was capitalized. "The wolf chased me."

Buffy took note that she said 'the wolf', not Oz, or even 'he'.

Tara didn't blame him.

The witch ducked her head self-depreciatingly. "I wasn't fast enough." Willow raised her hand, caressing Tara's cheek with the back of it.

"It wasn't your fault," she whispered. "Never, ever, ever." She sucked in air. "If anything, it's my fault." Her girlfriend whirled to face her, eyes wide. Willow held up her hand to stay her beloved's protest. "If...If I had been upfront about it, about us..." she trailed off, not sure where her logic and self-blame were leading her.

Buffy had read, and yes she indeed read, of couples who looked at each-other and the whole world around them vanished. She liked to think she had it with Riley, and perhaps with Angel, but to witness it from an outside perspective? In a show of solidarity, Tara had mirrored Willow's earlier face caress, and the redhead melted under the blue-eyed gaze.
Buffy let them carry one in their own little world for a little while before letting herself interrupt. Reaching out, she clasped Tara's uninjured forearm. The witch jumped, snapped out of her reverie, eyes momentarily wild at the unexpected touch. However, once realizing it was the Slayer, she calmed.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said sincerely. "From what I've seen, and what Willow's told me, you're sweet. You don't deserve this. No one does." Willow stared at her best friend, tears welling in her eyes. "I'll do anything I can to help you two out, alright?"

Tara was speechless. She had heard of Buffy's heart and kindness from Willow, but to be on the receiving end of it? This sort of easy conviction and acceptance that she'd found nowhere else but with her mother and Willow?

She was feeling better already.

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In the end, they set to work preparing Tara's cage. Oz's so called 'herbs and meditation' obviously were largely ineffective, otherwise they wouldn't be in this situation. A short debate between the two best friends on whether or not to tell the others had them deciding to keep Tara's condition on a need to know basis, and even then, only if the blonde was comfortable in telling.

They set to work in repairing Oz's old setup, Buffy turning to the heavy lifting with a gusto. All in all, she too blamed herself for Tara's condition. Maybe if she had been a more attentive friend, Willow would not have felt it necessary to keep it a secret for so long. Maybe then, they could've been open. Maybe then, Tara could have somehow not been bitten. The paths the mind took in self-blame were not linear ones though, and so she distracted herself with work.

"Ooh," Willow husked, feeling wicked teeth nibble at her neck. They had ditched Buffy several minutes before, on the promise of returning with food, but had gotten sidetracked.

"Shh," Tara hushed, stilling her. "N-no w-wiggling."

Oh yes. The dilemma. When she had been with Oz, biting was a strict no-no. Wolf magic was finicky like that, the slightest puncture of skin and saliva in the blood, and you had yourself a new werewolf. When her relationship with Tara had begun, the biting had been new, something once forbidden, leaving her weak at the knees not only because of the fact that it was biting, but that it was Tara doing it.

In the advent of Tara's new condition, Willow had mourned the loss of delicious Tara nibbles, of only for the moment. Tara was nothing if not careful, and though she really should have known better, Willow-skin under her teeth was too good a temptation.

It certainly helped that Tara was suddenly more aggressive. Not scarily so. In fact, it was rather subtle. Willow, usually the instigator, was more often finding herself cornered and nibbled upon, lusty kisses all over her face and neck and shoulders. They hadn't gone much further than that, despite wanting to. So the kisses sufficed.

Willow wasn't complaining.

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All in all, it was a pretty good setup.

For a cage, that is.

Willow, in a desperate attempt to make it as comfortable as possible for her girlfriend, had spared no expense, as far as her budget could allow.

"I think you went a bit overboard there, Wills," the Slayer commented dryly.

Willow scoffed. "Nonsense! Just look at-"

"She's...kinda right, sweetie," Tara was blushing, rather embarrassed, seeing as the cage was, in fact, for her.

The cage now held a rather large dog bed, special ordered to be larger than what was usually made available for most large breeds. It gave off an herb-y scent, claiming to calm dogs, though in actuality was probably there to hide the smell of puppy accidents.

Nearby was a large water bowl, blue with little white bones on it. That, Tara decided, was okay. The dog bed was the major distraction. Weak legged, she plopped down the the cot Willow set outside of the cage for herself, suddenly woozy.

This was really happening.

She was gonna turn into a dog.

Sitting there, while her lover and the Slayer admired their handiwork, Tara vomited all over the cold floor.

Willow whirled with a gasp, horrified."Baby!"

Buffy winced as the scent of it hit her sensitive nose. "You um, want me to go get some of Giles' books?" she asked, helpfully.

This was going to be a long process.